Temple blast: Thailand claims 'lot of progress' in probe

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Bangkok, Aug 21: Thailand today claimed to have made "a lot of progress" in its probe into the blast in the Brahma temple here and suspected that the bomber had a number of "accomplices" in the country's worst attack that had killed 20 people.

It also tripled the award for information leading to the arrest of the bomber here to 3 million baht (USD 85,000). Amid tight security, religious prayers, known as merit- making rites, were held this morning at the Erawan Brahma temple in the memory of the twenty people killed on Monday.

thailand

Speaking after the memorial, national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said the bomb was an attempt to create fear and uncertainty in the capital.

"The aim is to discredit the government and create a climate of fear to deter tourists," Somyot told reporters. "There's a lot of progress (in the case), but I can't disclose everything," he said.

Somyot also said that the main suspect who was captured on CCTV placing a backpack under a bench at the temple minutes before the explosion must have had "accomplices supporting the attack".

A police spokesman yesterday also hinted that investigators are looking at whether a private dispute could be behind the blast, media reports said. Also, two suspects who attracted suspicion after being seen on CCTV footage near the main suspect at the temple were ruled out as accomplices.

Police are now also investigating a woman dressed in black and seen in CCTV footage at the time of the blast.

Thai police have also released a sketch of the young bespectacled foreign man who carried out the bombing and is believed to be part of the over 10-member network.

Authorities on Wednesday announced a reward of 1 million baht for information leading to his arrest. The rites of five religions, including Hinduism and Sikhism, were held today with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon presiding over the rites which began at 7 AM.

A Brahmin priest poured holy water over the damaged face of the temple's Brahma idol. After the Hindu ceremony, officials held rites for the victims in a multi-religious prayer ceremony attended by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim priests and representatives.

Gen Prawit led the attendees in worshipping Brahma as national artist Naowarat Pongpaiboon read a poem. All participants placed flowers outside the temple in memory of the 20 victims.

Meanwhile, the International Commission of jurists said that the bombing in Bangkok constitutes a serious attack on human rights and demanded an impartial and effective investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

PTI

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